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The Scarlet & Black

Stories through song

Steafán Hanvey, a Northern Irish singer-songwriter, will perform in Grinnell this Monday, Oct. 14 at 7 p.m. in Sebring-Lewis Hall. His performance is a multimedia presentation entitled, “Look Behind You! A Father and Son’s Impressions of ‘The Troubles’ in Northern Ireland Through Photograph and Song,” which places his original songs and stories in tandem with photographs taken by his father, Bobbie Hanvey, who has worked as a photographer documenting Irish history since the 70’s. The nature of this multimedia work originates from the singer-songwriter’s national background.

“I come from a country with a strong story-telling tradition,” Hanvey wrote in an email to the S&B. “Songs are stories put to music, and vice versa. I’m delighted I’ve had the opportunity to merge elements of my tradition with my songs, which are, I suppose, quite contemporary. Look Behind You! … tells a contemporary story of how a father and son have negotiated the personal and political landscapes of Northern Ireland, during ‘The Troubles.’”

Hanvey’s most recently completed album, “Nuclear Family,” which was released in February, also addresses family issues, but does not create as much of an explicit connection between family dynamics and national dynamics as “Look Behind You!” does.

“As I sifted through my memories and experiences, I realized that the public and political face of Northern Ireland was pressed hard against the window of my private and personal world; in short, my ‘family’ couldn’t be ‘explained’ in isolation—context, though not everything, was a significant something. Making the album made me realize that although I had never written explicitly about Northern Ireland, Northern Ireland had in fact, written me,” Hanvey wrote.

Hanvey feels the College’s environment and goals complement his current project well.

“Grinnell’s renown is no secret, even in Ireland,” Hanvey wrote. “Grinnell’s PACS [Peace and Conflict Studies Program] mission statement matched the tone and tenor of my project.”

During his stay in Grinnell, Hanvey stated that he was excited about “performing to so many bright sparks!”

“I hope they have plenty of questions. I’m looking forward to meeting the staff with a special interest in Northern Ireland. I’m eager to tell my story at a school with such a respected reputation as Grinnell’s,” he wrote.

The following day—Tuesday, Oct. 15—Hanvey will also take part in a panel on “Memory, Identity and Conflict” with Shuchi Kapila, English, Brigittine French and Doug Caulkins, both Anthropology, at 4:15 p.m. in JRC 101. This discussion is intended to complement a Mentored Advanced Project (MAP) trip to Ireland that Caulkins and several students took this past summer.

Hanvey is in the middle of his third tour this year and, after Grinnell, will be moving on to perform at other colleges including University of Kansas and American University in Washington D.C.

A photo featured in Hanvey’s newest project. Photo contributed.
A photo featured in Hanvey’s newest project. Photo contributed.
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